Howl's Moving Castle

Book review by
Matt Berman, Common Sense Media
Howl's Moving Castle Book Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Young girl turned old lives with a wizard.

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 8 reviews

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 14 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Howl drinks brandy and gets drunk.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that there's not much to concern parents here.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byTeachermom111569 June 26, 2012

A Satisfying Read For A Wide Age Range

This is a thought-provoking book that makes a good read-aloud for families. Although it is not difficult to read, the plot is complicated with lots of surprise... Continue reading
Parent of a 9-year-old Written byprcardi July 8, 2016

Beware of Subtle Messages

As other reviewers have noted, this is a light-hearted, whimsical, meandering fantasy tale. On the face of it, it seems appropriate for middle-to-late elementar... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byMaryoland P. February 6, 2017

Howl's Moving Castle

The theme is you can choose what you want.
Sophie is in conflict with herself. Sophie wants to choose what she wants to do in her life, on the other hand she do... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bymicz June 1, 2009

i laughed and cry becaise of this book

this is really an amazing book and it's really fun to read it so i hope you guys enjoy it too because my family and i enjoyed it

What's the story?

Sophie is trapped in her life as the responsible eldest daughter who runs the family hat business and has nothing to look forward to. Everything changes when the evil Witch of the Waste bursts into her shop and, for mysterious reasons, turns her into an old woman. Wandering away from town she finds herself alone in the wilderness at night, and stumbles across the titular castle, owned by a wizard rumored to take the souls of young girls.

Once there she makes a deal with a captive fire demon -- if she breaks the contract between the demon and Howl, the demon will lift the spell on Sophie. There's only one problem -- no one can tell her what the contract is, or how to break it.

Is it any good?

Diana Wynne Jones writes the old-fashioned kind of fantasy: fascinating and original, but slow and meandering. Once Sophie settles in at the castle, it's hard to say what the story is about for the next couple of hundred pages. That's not to say it's boring -- far from it. But, much like the castle that wanders around in the wilderness, it doesn't seem to go much of anywhere, or to have a definite purpose.

Eventually there's a nice climactic showdown; though much of it happens offstage, so to speak, a few secrets and surprises are revealed, and it's wrapped up satisfyingly. Die-hard fantasy lovers adore this and other Wynne Jones books, but those who need action, adventure, or a clear plotline may find it too murky.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what it would be like suddenly to be old, to have a child's mind in an elderly body. There's a lot about adulthood and old age that children don't know or understand, and they may be interested to try to imagine Sophie's predicament.

Book details

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